The Berlin Wall is rather iconic, and actually a wall. Most of it is torn down and can be found in souvenir shops, including postcards with little pieces of Wall embedded on it. But even when it’s gone physically, it’s still there. Berlin is a city saturated with history.
Germany in general, but especially in Berlin and Munich, you can see memorials to the atrocities of WWII such as the victims of the Holocaust. In the center of town, there are parallel rows of bricks in the cobblestone showing where the Wall used to stand. Near one of the Checkpoints, called Checkpoint Charlie, there is a free open-air museum chronicling the plight of all those who tried to cross, both successfully and not.
Former checkpoint, current souvenir shop.
However, in the south-east of the city, there are parts of the Wall still standing, covered in state-sanctioned graffiti, a visual memorial to the divided nation and a collective prayer that it never happens again.
On the opposite side of the Wall from the murals, there was also an exhibit called Wall on Wall, about other dividing walls that still stand: the DMZ in Korea, the wall between Israel and Palestine, “peace lines” in Ireland, etc. After seeing how much people have suffered from a 30-year wall over two decades ago, it’s heartbreaking to imagine what pain the still standing walls are causing.
San Antonio is so old it remembers when Franciscan monks came over to Christianize the heathen Indians for España. It was there for the birth of México. It was there for the birth of the Republic of Texas when all the Tejanos said pass to being ruled by Santa Ana. It was there when Texans decided they wanted to be Americans. And, who knows, what else it’ll see.
That’s on the door to the Alamo Mission, site of the which hugely publicized Battle, pivotal in TEXAS, not American, history.
We took the San Antonio Walks history tour which was 2 hours of non-stop history lecture. I even felt a little overwhelmed! Our guide was as opinionated as he was knowledgable; I say it’s the Staten Island roots. They’re a little pricey, but I would definitely recommend them from an education, food-for-thought POV alone. Just be ready for your brain to be bombarded!
Confession: We never went in. But yes, they do decorate with dead animal parts out here. And good luck getting non-Mexican beans without bacon in ‘em. Vegetarians, Muslims, and Jews, tread carefully!
Where the heroes of the Alamo are buried, San Fernando Cathedral. Also very important in Texas history. Basically, San Antonio is like the Munich of Texas.
You can also see 5 historic missions around San Antonio (car recommended). The two my mother and I visited, Concepción and San Jose, are actually still actively used today. There was a bilingual service at Concepcón the morning of our visit and all of the interiors you see below are from that church.
We arrived at San Jose 5 minutes before the park closed (4.55pm) so there is only one shot of the exterior. They said that Concepción was the most complete mission, but I would say that San Jose has the most complete compound, with almost the entire exterior walls structure, where the Indians lived, still in tact.
This is what Denver looks like from the outside, from southern most to northern most sites. Sorry for the overload of pictures, it hurts me more than you (because I had to edit and hunt down sources for all of them!), promises. I’ve grouped neighborhoods together to help orient you a little. As always, click on image to embiggen.
This is all I saw of Four Mile Historic Park because it wasn’t open at 930AM on a Friday. It is also clearly aimed at promoting Colorado history to children via re-enactment. This detail should’ve been included in the travel guides, folks.
The following are from the Cheesman Park area of Denver. No actual shots of the park because, well, the linked Wikipedia picture shows you all you need to know. Think Central Park, the really flat, grassy parts. Quiet and rich, you would be remiss not to walk around the old neighborhoods nearby. I met a man redoing the ductwork on a multi-million dollar house from 1910. This is one of the few times in my life that I felt the urge to settle down and NEST.
The Denver Botanic Gardens are next to Cheeseman Park, but they are not free. However, the nice plants are on the street too. Plus, the mansions all have great landscaping.
Golden Triangle Museum District, wherein I did not enter a single one of the museums pictured. I did go into the Colorado History Museum, which I’ll discuss later. It’s outside wasn’t very architecturally daring like these.
Jiberish sells…stuff? I just think their sign makes a good life slogan.
This bird was outside Pepsi Center home of the Rockies (baseball), which played a couple times while I was there, resulting in giant traffic headaches each time. Their tickets are scalped at $20 so it’s not a bad way to pass an afternoon!
The Highlands is where badasses (or self-indulgent assholes, depending of if you’re asking me or not) like Jack Kerouac stayed when they were in Denver. It’s pretty nifty, and we went to their annual street fair. I’ll show you vendor and shop pictures in a separate post aimed at pretty things you can buy.
Deschutes Brewery from Oregan was at the Highlands street fair serving beer out of a truck. Beer! Out of a truck! How nifty.
I didn’t get any good pictures of the Tuesday/Thursday food trucks at Civic Square (down by the museums), but I would highly recommend them for lunch too. Biscuit sandwhiches! Ginger lemonade! Vegan goodness!
There are also a ton of local microbreweries in Denver itself. Great Divide is only 43 people big, but they make some great beers, have a free tour, and $3 flights ($1/glass). A great way to spend a couple hours, friends!
Brynn doesn’t understand my taste in beer, but it makes us good sampler partners, one of us is guaranteed to like it!
RiNo, in typical Denver abbreviated portmanteau, is the area North and by the River. Lots of art galleries in former warehouses, so hipsters and street art abound.
Like Minded Productions is housed in 2700 Walnut Street and was not, to the best of my from-the-street view, ever open the entire week I was there. Or maybe it was in invisible mode, like when you’re logged into gchat but not visible to other people because you have too much work to do but COULD stop and chat, for the right people; I was not the right people for them.
Where does one draw that line? The easiest way to meet people is to talk to them (I know, there’s a Nobel Prize in my future), and it is a lot more accepted in the South than it would be back in New Jersey (thank goodness!), but I still feel myself wondering when I’m being friendly and when I’m starting to cling to strangers.
There are a few other people who have also just arrived at the office, so the social pool has opened up, and we are all in a strange land with strangers.
There is camaraderie in circumstance, and I’m also applying that approach outside the office. I found my local yarn store by the farmer’s market yesterday and will be going to knit night on Thursday, even though I haven’t knit in weeks. Friday I purchased a bike off Craigslist so I can commute to work more efficiently, and also go bike riding. There is a poetry slam Tuesday night that I’ll attend solo, because unfortunately people were busy. Basically, anything that sounds vaguely interesting is going on my calendar.
Sometimes I get a little nervous though, because what am I thinking running to all these random events? I went to a history lecture in Chestnut Hill which populated almost exclusively by older, rich folk who could trace their roots back to the first German settlers of the area. It was a self-congratulatory and insular affair. I felt so awkward and out of place. I could only grab one cookie and feel like a complete girl anachronism.
Luckily, there was a really sweet woman there who was knitting, and I approached her about that. Although I never did make it out to the yarn stores she mentioned, her conversation made me feel like less of an intruder. I don’t know what the implications of Chestnut Hill becoming part of Philadelphia were: I hadn’t even heard of Chestnut Hill until I started my internship outside of Philadelphia!
So it is with some trepidation that I’ve compiled a short list of things to see in Arkansas. Some might be hits, some might be misses, but even the dreadful evening of miss had a bright spot. Feel free to suggest additions!
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So it turns out that Germantown is thusly named because the first settlers were German. I know, you’re shocked. But look, YOU DON’T EXPECT LOS ANGELES TO BE FULL OF ANGLES NOW DO YOU?? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Never mind that the Pennsylvania Dutch are actually Pennsylvania Deutch and other obviously Germanic roots, like my being the only non-Western European until somebody’s Asian wife arrived about 15 minutes into the presentation. Then the population of the room that could claim non-Western European heritage doubled.
Speaking of which, the racial makeup of the area I’m living is really interesting. I was walking out of the Walmart next to my apartment when a couple of black guys noted “there’s another one,” and I look around and see another yellow woman in the parking lot. Yes, my friends, once again I was part of a population BOOM. But if you drive down 309 maybe 15 minutes there’s a mini-Koreatown, complete with H-Mart and BBQ joint. And then it’s back to black Philadelphia until you’re in center city where there’s a small Chinatown and then there are the rich, white neighborhoods and the more diverse student neighborhoods. Going north from where I am you have Germantown. It’s not so much a mixing pot as a sprinkling of.
But back to less controversial things: yes, I was in fact the youngest person there although someone dragged his son, who looked like a WASPier and more clean cut Spencer Pratt (but in an attractive sort of way!), who was home from college so maybe I wasn’t THE youngest, just in the running for the title. And hooboy it was boring since some of these lecturers, well, let us just say that they took that title very seriously and droned. I almost envied the older gentlemen who kept putting his hand up to his ear or raising his hand and turning it to signify which way the volume knob of the microphone should be adjusted.
Sir, trust me, you really did not want to hear about how the land plots were split long and narrow like so that it was a village structure with everyone on the main road. Or rather, once you heard that you were good. The other 14:45 minutes were unnecessary. Luckily the other presenters were more comfortable with PowerPoint and the idea of visual aids.
There was a rather crotchety old guy who sat by me and commented, rather loudly, to his lady friend. Sadly, he disappeared after intermission. I would have loved to hear his reactions to one of the later speaker’s impassioned manifesto on saving the Wissahickon Valley and ecosystems. It was funny to realize that those crazy tree-huggers and those crazy small-town history buffs had something in common—they want to preserve the past: animal, vegetable, or mineral. I say it’s funny because you must realize that I was sitting among upper middle-class, white Americans that reminded me of my little white, Republican home town with a little more money and Germanic roots as opposed to Italian. I expected them to think, like my town councils, that land is good for large scale development and building things, especially big ugly like the new town hall that resembles a giant brick barn.
And also, the kindness of knitters was reinforced. I don’t know if many of you read any knitting blogs (yes, there are blogs dedicated to knitting) but the YarnHarlot is one of the most famous (and hilarious) and she comments often about how NICE knitters are. And it is very true. There was a woman there knitting and I may have metaphorically pounced on her. I asked her what she was knitting and introduced myself as a knitter to. And then we discussed knitting methodology and projects and then, of course, yarn stores. So now I have some more things to do and more potential mother-figures for my life. Older women inevitably seem to take me under their wing, which is perhaps worrying because, really, do I look that helpless?? But it’s also comforting because mothers are wonderful, wonderful people. Far be it from me to pass up on more!